A vacation in Ireland can be very costly, especially when one takes into consideration the exchange rate between Euro and US Dollars, the cost of flights, expense of getting around whether by renting a car or taking a tour, accommodations, and the many other expenses one incurs along the way. It is therefore very nice to find that Ireland has many attractions that are free to visitors, thus helping to keep the expenses down
Dublin, the capital of Ireland lies along the Irish Sea, on the mouth of the 'Liffey' river'. It's history dates back to the 8th century invasion by the Vikings, through 700 years of Norman occupation and English rule, to it's formation as the Republic of Ireland in the 1920's. With such a varied history it is easy to find many historic places which offer free admittance.
(a) The National Museum of Ireland has three branches in the city,- Archaeology on Kildare Street, Decorative Arts and History at Collins Barracks, and History at Merrion Street.They all offer free admission and have a strong emphasis on Irish art, culture and history.
(b). St Stephens Green dates back to 1880. It has always been free to the public, kept the original Victorian layout, has an ornamental lake which is home to waterfowl, sculptures, a rock with a waterfall, and trees and foliage.
(c). The General Post Office on O'Connel Street is the Headquarters of the Irish Post Office. This is one of the top free sights in Dublin and was the site of the failed 1916 "Easter Rising" where the bullet holes can still be seen.
(d) Phoenix Park is the largest park in Dublin among the many attractions are, the home of the Irish President, the U.S. Ambassador's residence, about 500 deer, the Dublin zoo, the medevial tower house now used as the visitor's center, the massive Papal Cross made of steel, two monuments one topped with a Phoenix the other for the victor of Waterloo. There is a park is 7-miles of solid stone walls around the park which is accessible through eight major gates and six smaller pedestrian gates, and nestling along the park wall is Ireland's longest pub "The Hole in the Wall" with a gate conveniently located for access.
Cork, the second largest city and the third most populous is located south of Dublin. It is built on the river Lee and renowned for it's 'rebel' history. Due to it's size it is ideal for touring by foot.
(a) The Old English Market started in 1788 and still carries lots of authentic Irish food
(b) Cork's Public Museum is housed in a two-story Georgian building in Fitzerald Park. Dating back to 1845 it features important Archaeological findings from the area and objects from a recent dig done in the medievial town.
(c) 19th century St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, is dedicated to the patron saint of Cork, and located where the Saint is said to have established his monastic school in the 7th century. It has beautiful stained glass windows with scenes from the old and new Testament.
(d) Daly's Bridge, also called 'Shakey bridge', is one of 42 bridges that cross the River Lee, it connects with Fitzgerald's Park and Mardkye Way.
(e) The award winning Maritime Museum and Hedritage attraction, Mizen Vision, sits on high cliffs atop the swirling Atlantic Ocean. From the car park and visitors center it is a ten minutes walk to the Signal Station where it's famous wildflowers can be seen as well as wildlife including dolphins, whales, seals, gannets and kittiwakes. South of it is the 'Fastnet Rock Lighthouse' the last landfall seen by many immigrants going to America.
3. Galway the largest city on Ireland's West Coast can be reached by flying into Shannon the closest airport, or visitors touring the country from a network of roads. The city has 800 years of history open to all.
(a) the Hall of the Red Earl is the crumbling remains of Ireland's 13th century seat of power;
(b) the Spanish Arch is a remnant of the centuries old city walls that once encircled Galway
(c) Galway Cathedral was built in 1965 on 'Nun's Island' on the River Corrib, from it's dome the countryside can be see for miles.
(d) Galway City Museum, near the Spanish Arch, has the history of Galway, the art works and statue of Padraic O'Conaire, and the Civic sword and great Mace that was crafted in 1710.
(e) Walk, run or cycle on the new seaside promenade that goes not only to the Spanish Arch and the Spanish Gate but into Salthill a fading resort area dotted with hip bars.
4. County Mayo & Donegal have many free exciting activities that should not be missed.
(a) Slieve League Cliffs are the highest cliffs in Europe and have breathtaking views of the coast of Ireland.
(b) Croagh Patrick the oldest religious site in Ireland overlooks Clew Bay in County Mayo. It has a history of Pilgrimage that goes back over 5,000 years, and requires lots of walking up and down hills. It is here that St Patrick fasted for 40 days in 441AD, a custom that has continued through the years.
(c) The Royal Ballintubber Abbey, founded by King Robdearg in 1216 is 2 km northeast of the village of Ballintubber in County Mayo, and is still in use. It marks the start of 'Tochar Phadraig' the ancient Pilgrimage route to Croagh Patrick, where one can see the modern abstract Way of the Cross, an underground permanent Crib, and a Rosary Way which has been in use for 780 years.
5. Connemara National Park, in the heart of the West of Ireland, and just 93-km from Galway it can be reached by private car, or by bus service from Letterfrack. The park consists of over 2,000 hectares with - scenic mountains, expanive bogs, heath, grasslands, nature trails, exhibits with audio visual shows, red deer, and two ancient sites - the 19th century graveyard, and the 4,000 year old megalithic court tombs.
6. Puck Fair, one of Ireland's most unusual street festival and longest celebrated fairs, takes place for 3 days from August 10th - 12th in Kilorglin, County Kerry. The traditions is to catch a wild goat which is crowned by the 'Queen of the Puck' before being put in a cage on a stand in the middle of the town square, signifing the start of the fair. Pubs stay open until 3 a.m. during these 3 days. There is a horse fair on the first day and a cattle fair on the second day, while street vendors selling their ware are there every day.